CD REVIEW: Blvd Park - The Sound
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Blvd Park
CD: The Sound
Label: Independent Artist
Gypsy Folk, Celtic Americana
Weakness: Mix, Multiple Singer Line-up, Marketability
Seattle based 6 piece Folk-Rock band “Blvd Park” release their sophomore effort entitled The Sound in 2010. Band members include: Brian Ballentine (vocals, acoustic guitar) Timothy Conroy (vocals, trumpet, accordion) Tekla Waterfield (vocals, tambourine, guitar) Jarrett Mason (vocals, upright bass) Banton Foster (vocals, banjo, tuba) Dune Butler (vocals, mandolin, upright bass).
The CD gently takes to flight with “Tearing us Apart” an impressive intro piece that serves up methodical intro against well placed celtic fretwork and hooky vocal melody from Ballentine and company. Track 2 “That FN Thing” keeps thing grooving with its dynamic groove, mesmerizing instrumentation and gypsy-folk ambience that peaks and valleys its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Whistle Song” delivers jumping catchy melody against impressive vocal harmonies against a grand slam chorus. l. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of classic Squirrel Nut Zippers, Royal Crowne Revenue, Fleetwood Mac, and even The Band to Flogging Molly. The music itself is an impressive blend of Celtic, Gypsy Folk and Americana elements yet with an alternative rock aftertaste. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Besides the 4 piece standard you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive celtic fretwork, Accordion, lush vocal harmonies, upright bass, banjo, trumpet, mandolin, impressive keyboard accents against an earthy rhythmic foundation. All singers possess a unique and infectious vocal persona that is mystifying yet entertaining. This band handles all the pin drop moments extremely well. The songwriting is world class and provides a lot of musical variety and emotion. I can honestly say I was entertained the entire time, with never a dull moment to be found. From heartfelt Rover” and Bottled” to thought provoking “People Talking” to upbeat “Little Ditty” and Artic Sun” to jumping “Tricky Love” and Little Fish” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Aint Gonna Be Easy” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
This isn’t the best mix I’ve ever heard. If this was 1991 this would be a cutting edge musical production, however it’s 2012 so the bar is set really high for artists like “Blvd Park” Looking at the liner notes the Recording, Mixing and Mastering Engineer should be 3 separate engineers altogether. The perspective 3 separate pairs of ears will give your production cannot be overstated. I’m also not crazy about the 3-4-5 singer line up. At the end of the day some songs don’t even sound like the same band. It’s a bit confusing. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but many of the aforementioned issues do effect the CD’s overall marketability.
From start to finish The Sound from Blvd Park is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is very consistent, well-crafted and extremely entertaining. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalogue. The production strokes: writing and playing abilities of these 6 is rock solid. The melodies and harmonies are well crafted and the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with rich conventional wisdom. One would be wise to keep a watchful eye on these 6 over the next few years.